[Editor: This article, regarding the Kangaroo and Map stamps, was published in the “Plain English” section in The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 17 July 1913.]
Concerning a stamp.
The proposal of Postmaster-General Agar Wynne to put the Post Office under the control of Commissioners may lead to one good result. It may prevent maddened persons like Agar Wynne altering the country’s postage stamp whenever a new Government comes in with only the Speaker’s casting vote and the forbearance of its opponents to save it from destruction.
The stamp introduced by the Fisher Administration had its drawbacks, certainly. It was not so artistic as it might have been. But at least it was Australian.
The simple, plain old kangaroo was its leading feature, and Australia owns the kangaroo. That quaint and cheerful beast is this country’s monopoly and advertisement. Australia may be said to date its history from the time when Pelsart, the Dutch navigator, took reports and details and drawings and particulars and plans and specifications of the kangaroo back with him to Holland.
It might be possible to limn a better kangaroo than the one on the Fisher Government’s stamp, but it would certainly be easy to do a better King than the one who is to take the creature’s place. Agar Wynne proposes to rush in where emus fear to tread, with a concern that looks like a marine store or a museum. In the middle there is the head of the King. Above that appears the word “Australia.” Then happens a top line consisting of five designs — a cross with four spots on it; a sort of Maltese cross; a crown; a lobster; and a hurricane or blot or something. Down the left side is a swan, some foliage, a very meaty kangaroo, and a large statement which says “1d.” At the bottom the stamp says “One Penny.” On the right-hand side going upwards is again the wild, unsupported statement “1d.” It isn’t even backed by an affidavit made before a Justice of the Peace. Next — still going upwards — the infuriated spectator arrives at a hen or emu or ostrich with a stack of hay for a tail. A sort of burst of foliage separates this wild egg-layer from an alleged lion with an impossible tail in three curves. Round the King appears the statement “Australia” (above) “Postage” (below). It is necessary to mention that it is “postage” in order to prevent the public imagining that it is an insurrection or a wheelbarrow. The King, who occupies the middle of the spectacle, wears a moustache, a beard, some hair, a smile, a uniform, a badge, two epaulettes, four stars, and a few sundries. Incidentally there is a crinkled border like a grandmother’s cap.
All good citizens are hereby advised to lay in £5 worth of the old kangaroo stamps to keep them going until Agar Wynne and the Cook Government and the new postage foolishness have all disappeared.
The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 17 July 1913, p. 8, column 4
Also published in:
The Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA), 28 July 1913, p. 4
Agar Wynne = (1850-1934) lawyer, politician, pastoralist; Victorian parliamentarian (Legislative Council 1888-1903; Legislative Assembly 1917-1920), Postmaster-General (1893-1894) and Solicitor-General (1893-1894, 1900-1902); federal parliamentarian 1906-1914, Postmaster-General (1913-1914); he was born in London (England) in 1850, and died at his property of Nerrin Nerrin (Vic.) in 1934
See: 1) Darryl Bennet, “Wynne, Agar (1850–1934)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Agar Wynne”, Parliament of Victoria
3) “Agar Wynne”, Wikipedia
Cook = Sir Joseph Cook (1860-1947), New South Wales parliamentarian 1891-1901, NSW Premier 1894-1899, federal parliamentarian 1901-1921, and Prime Minister of Australia (1913-1914); he was born in Silverdale (Staffordshire, England) in 1860, and died in Bellevue Hill (Sydney, NSW) in 1947
See: 1) F. K. Crowley, “Cook, Sir Joseph (1860–1947)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Joseph Cook”, Wikipedia
d = a reference to a penny, or pennies (pence); the “d” was an abbreviation of “denarii”, e.g. as used in “L.S.D.” or “£sd” (pounds, shillings, and pence), which refers to coins used by the Romans, as per the Latin words “librae” (or “libra”), “solidi” (singular “solidus”), and “denarii” (singular “denarius”)
Fisher = Andrew Fisher (1862-1928), federal parliamentarian 1901-1915, leader of the Labor Party 1907-1915, Prime Minister of Australia 1908-1909, 1910-1913, and 1914-1915, and High Commissioner of Australia to the United Kingdom 1916-1920; he was born in Crosshouse (Ayrshire, Scotland) in 1862, and died in London (England) in 1928
See: 1) D. J. Murphy, “Fisher, Andrew (1862–1928)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Andrew Fisher”, Wikipedia
limn = to draw or paint on a surface; or to outline in clear sharp detail; or describe in words (from Middle English “limnen”, to illuminate, with regard to manuscripts, possibly derived from the Latin “illuminare”)
Pelsart = Francisco Pelsaert (1591?-1630), a Dutch merchant and ship captain, of the Dutch East India Company; whilst under his command the Batavia was shipwrecked off the coast of Western Australia in June 1629; he was born in Antwerp (Belgium) circa 1591, and died in Batavia (Dutch East Indies) in 1630 (Batavia is now the city of Jakarta, Indonesia); in English-speaking countries his surname was historically spelt as “Pelsart”
See: 1) J. Van Lohuizen, “Pelsaert, Francisco (1591–1630)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Francisco Pelsaert”, Wikipedia
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]
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